A seven-year study project suggests that there might be a fresh approach to treating one of the most common and devastating forms of brain cancer in adults - Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).
Scientists from the University of Surrey demonstrate that a short chain of amino acids (the HTL-001 peptide) is effective in targeting and inhibiting the function of a group of genes responsible for the growth of GBM Hoxgenes. The study was conducted in cell and animal experiments.
The HTL-001 peptide used in the study has been tested for safety and is suitable for patient trials. These trials are now being considered in GBM and other cancers.
Hardev Pandha, a project lead and professor of medical oncology at the University of Surrey, said: "It''s a matter of choice."
"People who suffer from Glioblastoma Multiforme have a five-fold survival rate over a five-year period, a figure that has not improved in decades. We are still in the process, but our seven-year program offers a lot of hope for finding a solution to Hox gene dysregulation, which has been linked to GBM growth and other cancers, which has remained elusive as a target for so many years."
Ironically, Hox genes are responsible for healthy brain tissue growth, but they are typically silent at birth after intense activity in the developing embryo. However, if they are improperly switched on again, their activity may lead to the progression of cancer. GBM has long recognized Hox gene dysregulation.
The project was undertaken in collaboration with the universities of Surrey, Leeds, and Texas, as well as HOX Therapeutics, a University of Surrey start-up company based on the Universitys Surrey Research Park.
Professor Susan Short, a co-author of the study at the University of Leeds, said:
"We need urgently developable therapies for these aggressive brain tumours," says the author. It''s possible that developing genes like the HOX genes that are abnormally switched on in the tumour cells might be a novel and effective way to prevent glioblastomas from growing and becoming life-threatening."
James Culverwell, CEO of HOX Therapeutics, said he''s pleased with the news.
HOX Therapeutics is excited to be involved in this initiative and we hope that with our ongoing support, this research will eventually lead to novel and effective treatments for both the brain and other cancers, where over-expression of the HOX gene is a clear therapeutic goal.